The government on Monday came in for a scathing attack in the Lok Sabha from friends and foes alike over handling of the economy with RJD, a key constituent of the UPA, warning of a death warrant for the coalition, if meaningful efforts were not made to check inflation.
The discussion on the Finance Bill also saw the Left and the Opposition BJP as well as several other parties finding fault with the governments policies alleging these were widening the rich-poor divide and helping in increasing the red corridor of Naxalites in the country.
Vijay Krishna of the RJD said it was high time the Congress-led coalition made meaningful efforts to bring down prices or it would lead to the signing of its death warrant.
People in villages do not understand the concept of 9% growth, but only talk about how prices of essential commodities like tomato, potato and others have gone up, he said in an apparent dig at those in the government who speak glowingly of growth rate to project the progress of the country. Krishna warned of more Nandigrams if the government failed to ensure that SEZs are set up only on barren lands. It is becoming difficult even for the people known as progressive to defend the Nandigram incident, he said. Participating in the discussion, members asked the government to increase the limit of tax exemptions for salaried class and middle-income groups and reduce concessions given to the rich and India Inc.
Initiating the debate, Hiren Pathak of the BJP sought to raise the exemption limit for income tax purposes to Rs 1.50 lakh for men from Rs 1.10 lakh proposed in the Bill. The limit should be raised to Rs 2 lakh for women and Rs 2.50 lakh for senior citizens, he said. More than Rs 2,70,000 crore of concessions were being given to rich people and India Inc, Pathak said, adding, tax sops to such sections should be curtailed. The Budget did not propose any measure to control inflation, adding prices of commodities such as pulses and wheat had risen substantially, he said. Sandeep Dikshit of the Congress said if the finance minister found it difficult to raise standard deduction, then this limit could be linked to a price index like inflation. This would enable people to get benefit automatically every year in proportion to rise in prices, he said.